Unveiling the History of Kalasan Temple, the Oldest Buddhist Temple in Yogyakarta

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Kalasan Temple, an enchanting historical heritage, is located in Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta. Known as the oldest Buddhist temple in Yogyakarta, this site holds extraordinary archaeological and cultural riches. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, and cultural significance of Kalasan Temple, which remains an interesting and meaningful tourist destination for locals and tourists.

Historical Background

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Kalasan Temple, located in Tirtomartani Village, Kalasan District, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta, is one of the oldest historical Buddhist buildings in Indonesia. Kalasan Temple was built in the 8th century AD during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, which ruled Central Java and Yogyakarta during that period. At that time, Buddhism developed rapidly in the region, and temples were built as centers of religious and cultural activities. Kalasan Temple is believed to have been built on the orders of Queen

Pramodhawardhani, who was the wife of Rakai Panangkaran, a ruler of the Syailendra dynasty. This estimate is based on the Kalasan inscription found near the site. This inscription uses Sanskrit and Pallawa letters, stating that King Rakai Panangkaran from the Ancient Mataram Kingdom ordered the construction of this temple. Kalasan Temple was founded as a place of worship to worship the Goddess Tara, a symbol of wisdom and compassion in Buddhism. The architectural specialty of this temple lies in the stupa at the top and the reliefs depicting Buddhist stories.

Important points regarding the history of Kalasan Temple are as follows:

  1. Built in 778 AD: King Rakai Panangkaran ordered the construction of Kalasan Temple during his reign in the Ancient Mataram Kingdom.
  2. Function: Kalasan Temple was founded as a holy place to honor the Goddess Tara.
  3. Architecture: This temple has distinctive architectural characteristics with a stupa at the top and reliefs that tell Buddhist stories.
  4. Historical value: Kalasan Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Indonesia and has very high historical value.
  5. Over time, Kalasan Temple has undergone several restorations, namely in 1927, 1973 and the 1990s. Currently, this temple is one of the popular tourist destinations in Yogyakarta and is managed by the Yogyakarta Cultural Heritage Conservation Center.

Some interesting facts about Kalasan Temple include:

  1. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. It has reliefs depicting Buddhist stories, such as Jataka and Avadana.
  3. Once the site of a Buddhist monastery.
  4. A beautiful and majestic example of Buddhist architecture.

For those of you who want to visit Kalasan Temple, here is some information you need to know:

  1. Location: Tirtomartani Village, Kalasan District, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta.
  2. Opening hours: Every day from 08.00 WIB to 17.00 WIB.
  3. Ticket price: Rp. 5,000,- per person.

Architectural Beauty

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Kalasan Temple is a magnificent example of classical Javanese Buddhist architecture. Made of beautifully carved andesite stone, this temple has a distinctive architectural style, which combines Indian and Javanese Buddhist elements. The temple building consists of a main hall surrounded by five prominent makara (mythological animals), which are typical of temple architecture of that time.
The architecture of Kalasan Temple presents a stunning blend of Hindu and Buddhist elements. Some of the architectural characteristics of this temple include shape, reliefs, ornaments, building materials, and high architectural value.

Kalasan Temple has a square shape with dimensions of 45 meters x 45 meters. The structure is divided into three main parts, namely the foot of the temple, the body of the temple, and the roof of the temple. The foot of the temple is a cube which is decorated with reliefs telling Buddhist stories, while the body of the temple is rectangular with reliefs of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. The roof of the temple gives rise to a stupa that symbolizes Buddha’s enlightenment.

Apart from that, Kalasan Temple is rich with reliefs depicting Buddhist stories such as Jataka and Avadana. These reliefs are carved in very fine and beautiful detail, while some also depict people’s lives at that time. The ornaments that decorate Kalasan Temple include kalamakara, makara, and dragons, which have symbolic meaning in Buddhism. The entire temple building is made of andesite stone which is arranged without using adhesive, adding to the beauty and strength of the temple’s architecture.

The architecture of Kalasan Temple has very high value because it uniquely combines Hindu and Buddhist elements. This temple is a stunning example of majestic and beautiful Buddhist architecture.
Some architectural terms associated with Kalasan Temple include roof, batur, kalamakara, temple foot, makara, naga, relief, stupa, and temple body. These terms help in understanding the structure and architectural details of this amazing temple. Kalasan Temple enriches Indonesia’s rich culture and history with the beauty and complexity of its architecture. Understanding and appreciating the unique architectural characteristics of Kalasan Temple is an important step in preserving this valuable cultural heritage for future generations.

Buddhist Reliefs

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One of the main attractions of Kalasan Temple is the stunning Buddhist reliefs. The reliefs depict various scenes of Buddha’s life, from the birth of Siddhartha Gautama to his enlightenment and main teachings. Each relief is carved with extraordinary detail, creating a deep spiritual feel for visitors.

Cultural and Religious Significance

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Kalasan Temple has great cultural and religious significance for Indonesian society. Apart from being an important historical site, this temple is also a center of religious activities for Buddhists who are still active. Every year, religious festivals are held around the temple, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists to celebrate this precious spiritual heritage.

Preservation and Restoration

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Preserving Kalasan Temple has become a priority for the government and local communities. Various restoration projects have been carried out to restore the grandeur and beauty of this temple, including restoration of damaged reliefs and maintenance of stone structures that have been weathered due to natural factors. These efforts aim to ensure that this valuable cultural heritage is maintained and can be enjoyed by future generations.

Cultural Tourism Around the Temple

Apart from visiting Kalasan Temple itself, tourists can also enjoy various cultural attractions around it. From traditional art performances to delicious local culinary delights, the area around the temple offers an immersive experience for visitors who want to explore Java’s rich culture.
Kalasan Temple, as the oldest Buddhist temple in Yogyakarta, is not only an important historical place, but also a symbol of architectural beauty and rich Indonesian culture. By safeguarding and caring for this precious heritage, we can ensure that our cultural heritage lives on and continues to inspire future generations. Through a visit to Kalasan Temple, we can appreciate and understand the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of the past, while enjoying the natural beauty and friendliness of the local people.

Are you planning to visit Kalasan Temple? You can use the Jomblang Cave Tour to help with your tourism activities while in Yogyakarta. Come on, visit the Jomblang Cave Tour now!

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